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Beer in parks moves ahead

Members of Farragut’s Parks and Athletics Council took a while to warm to the idea of allowing alcohol in Town parks for special events.

“I don’t know if we want to serve alcohol or not,” Council member Loretta Bradley said.

The Town currently allows no alcohol in any of its parks for any reason — average park-goers can’t bring it in, and special events that might serve alcohol in parks are not allowed.

But Farragut staff is completing an overhaul of the Town’s beer ordinance, and are likely to include allowances for special events that might serve or sell alcohol in Farragut parks.

Town Administrator David Smoak told the Council he was looking for feedback on if Farragut should allow those types of events, and if it does, how should those events be regulated?

“Why would we allow alcohol? What do we gain?” Council member Carlo Gorla asked.

Richard DuByne agreed: “Why do you have to have liquor to have fun? I don’t see why we need it.”

But Nadia Kogeler said she could see how there might be a need.

“I think it could be a good thing. I think people would enjoy it,” she said, especially at future entertainment venues the Town plans, such as the amphitheater at McFee Park.

“That would be a good venue where people might like to have drink,” she said.

Farragut Parks and Leisure Services director Sue Stuhl clarified that this permit — if it were written and adopted — wouldn’t apply to private birthday parties or weddings. It likely would only apply to special events such as the Farragut Business Alliance’s Taste of Farragut, or something similar.

Any permitting process likely would include requirements for liability insurance, security, fencing and possession of a liquor license and/or beer permit.

“It discourages the average person, and it’s more organizations,” Council chair Pat Sloan said.

Stuhl said the Town just now was getting to a time when it had venues for special events, since several of the Town’s parks are not conducive to special events. But McFee Park, especially, with its large open spaces and pavilions, is a prime spot for possible events that might like to serve alcohol, she said.

“If you open up the door, it will happen. People will be lined up,” Smoak agreed.

Knoxville and Knox County both prohibit alcohol in their parks. But both also have alternate public venues — such as Market Square and Volunteer Landing — where alcohol can be served at special events.

Town staff has contacted other municipalities across the state and found a wide variation among what other cities allow.

Athletic and Park Coordinator Jay Smelser said some municipalities charge fees for staff time and extra facilities, such as additional trash cans and port-a-potties. Others take a percentage of liquor sales. Some charge for damage deposits, and have non-refundable application fees to limit the number of applicants.

Other municipalities only allow special events that serve alcohol at certain times of year, in certain parks, during certain times of day, or only for certain events.

“Some towns have great festivals where they just allow [alcohol] for that festival. And for festivals, [liquor sales] is a big part,” Smoak said.

“There are a lot of places that do a lot of different things,” Smelser said.

Smoak told the Council he would take their feedback and use it to craft the revamped beer ordinance. That ordinance eventually will come before Farragut’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen for possible adoption.


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